DESTROYED. Photo shows the ravaged poultry building worth over PHP1 million at the farm of Tampakan, South Cotabato Mayor Leonard Escobillo in Barangay Lampitak that was battered by “tornado-like” strong winds on Friday afternoon (May 7, 2021). The weather disturbance also affected other parts of the province, damaging nearly 150 houses, various structures, and crops. (Photo grab from the Facebook post of Mayor Leonard Escobillo)

GENERAL SANTOS CITY – Strong winds battered parts of South Cotabato province damaging nearly 150 houses, various structures, and crops and toppling power lines and huge trees on Friday afternoon.

Rolly Doane Aquino, acting head of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO), said several barangays in five municipalities have reported destructions as of Saturday morning due to the weather-related disturbance, which occurred around 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.

He said among those affected were four barangays in Tupi town, three in Tampakan, and two in Lake Sebu.

There are areas in other municipalities also ravaged by the calamity but have not yet submitted initial reports to their office, Aquino said.

These include portions of Tboli town, including Barangays Poblacion and Malaya in Banga.

“The rapid damage and needs assessment are still ongoing so we expect the affected areas and the reported damages to still increase,” he said in the provincial government’s radio program “PDRRMO Hour.”

Emil Sumagaysay, head of the Tupi Municipal DRRMO, said the strong winds, which came amid moderate rains, mainly affected communities and farm areas in Barangays Kablon, Linan, Simbo, and Acmonan.

The hardest hit was Barangay Kablon, which reported three houses destroyed and 94 others partially damaged.

Some 20 houses in Linan and three others in Simbo were also partially damaged.

He said they were still waiting for the report on the extent of damage and the number of affected residents in the upper portion of Acmonan.

They are also verifying possible damaged structures in Sitio Lamlatang of Barangay Miasong, he said.

“Power was cut off and has yet to be restored in Barangays Kablon and Linan due to the toppled power lines,” Sumagaysay said in a radio interview.

He said vast areas of farmlands planted with high-value crops such as banana, avocado, durian, and various fruit-bearing vegetables were also damaged.

In Tampakan, Mayor Leonard Escobillo said the incident directly affected at least 30 families in Barangays Tablu, Danlag, and Lampitak.

He said eight houses were destroyed and 10 were partially damaged in Danlag while two were destroyed and seven partially damaged in Tablu.

In Lampitak, a poultry building worth over PHP1 million and about a hectare of harvestable banana, both owned by the mayor’s family, were destroyed.

Also damaged were still undetermined number of houses of their workers and other residents in the area, he said.

“It was reported as strong wind but it appeared to be a tornado. It was very powerful that even huge trees were toppled,” said Escobillo, who was near the site during the incident.

He said a female resident sustained minor injuries after being hit by debris.

The mayor said they sent initial food supplies to the affected families as well as hardware supplies to facilitate the immediate repair of the damaged houses. (PNA)